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the guilt of parenting DCs after a bad childhood(12 Posts)
I don't have happy memories of my childhood. I was abandoned a lot, shamed, intruded upon, boundaries broken, emotional abuse, all attention was negative attention. I have lots of unresolved feelings of helplessness/despair which I am trying to deal with in therapy.
Having my own DC has brought out so many feelings of guilt. If they cry because they can't get their own way, like I've been told it's normal for DC to do, I feel awful. I literally want to rip my hair out. My inner critic tells me I am a horrific parent too, and must be taking shortcuts. So I am hyper attentive.
I lie awake at night thinking about it. Waiting for them to wake up. Waiting to be "there for them immediately" if I hear just a small cry. It makes things worse, I know. They can't resettle if I immediately burst in fearing the worst. They know, of course, they feel it. They know I am hyper vigilant and will be up 12 times a night if need be. DH says they know it and they use it against me. I can't see the wood for the trees.
I am knackered, wracked with guilt and miserable. I am already having therapy. What else would you suggest I do? I've thought of seeing a psychiatrist (we are from abroad so have private medical insurance here) and trying to get some anti-anixety medication
See a counsellor. You are doing well to know you have an issue and to know it's source. Some people have buried all that stuff and feel they are fine. Its not your fault you had a horrible upbringing and you sound like a good mom who only wants best for your dc. Get into counselling with a psychotherapist and commit to doing it for a good while.
DH says they know it and they use it against me. I can't see the wood for the trees
Actually a child depends so much on their mother that they feel their mother is scared of something, they will be too. So when they see you so anxious about them when they are in bed, they probably think there is some danger around.
Some of the best mothers I know had terrible childhoods. One I know relied heavily on therapy.
I'm having therapy. I have put it in my OP. Five years now.
It;s great because I understand why I am the way I am. But it has not got rid of the fear or guilt. What's the next stage?
Maybe the actual trauma itself in your body memory. You've done so much and have a good insight from the therapy. The trauma locked in is harder to reach by 'talking' but actually can release quite quickly once a lot of work has been done on feeling safe iyswim.
Maybe the body memories now, the actual trauma stored. You've got such a lot of insight from the therapy but the trauma in your body memory (causing hypervigilance etc) might be harder to reach by 'talking'. But after all the work done to feel safer it might be easier or quicker to release that trauma than you'd think.
Sorry bout two similar posts! Thought i'd completely lost the first.
Hi OP I'm completely with you on this. Having my dd has brought up a lot of issues from my childhood and I've been having counselling for 8 months.
The hyper atentativeness is exhausting isn't it
Have you read any of Alice Miller's books? I've just finished one called The Drama of Being a Child, which has been somewhat life changing for me.
I'm also on the verge of going no contact with my dad, but this is proving to be quite tough because of feelings of guilt, not wanting to cause a shit storm and not wanting to hurt him. Despite all the hurt I suffered by him as a child
It's hard isn't it. Not sure how to make it better but just wanted to say you're definitely not on your own.
I had an abusive Father and I think that therefore it is very hard to be a easy going happy go lucky parent. ( I have had counselling) If no one loved you as a child how the heck can you attempt to love anyone including your own children. I struggle enormously with tons of guilt.
I haven't replicated what happened to me at all, but I think I haven't done very well as a parent and I am full of guilt.
I think OP your DCs will be Ok as you have at least sought an insight into yourself and your behaviour. My DCs appear also to be alright despite my shortcomings, but I know that I wasn't patient enough and didn't respect them enough.
I so wish MNet had been around when I was young.
It is hopeless looking back though, just stop and think and try and give them the best childhood you can and treat them how you would like to be treated, as your behaviour unfortunately will come back to bite you on the bum.
They won't remember your words but they will remember the atmosphere. When they are adults they will question you and if you have something to be sorry about, then you will be sorry. I think mine like making me squirm.
I do apologise to my children constantly but it is too late once they are grown up.
It is 5 in the morning and I am feeling sad about my whole parenting thing.
However, rationally I know all parents feel guilt. Lol
"Parenting From the Inside Out" by Daniel Siegel is a book that my counsellor recommended to me when I was in counseling. It helped me a great deal.
I think holeinmyheart touched on the cornerstone of good parenting with mentioning patience and respect.
Another absolutely fantastic book is: "How To Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Adele Faber which is about respecting a child as a person with their own perspective. (It is a great guide for dealing with people in general, not just kids!)
Parenting is a hard row to hoe without having had the good example or good experience of/for "training". I didn't have it either-bipolar/alcoholic dm and workaholic/deaf df.
The problem with hyper vigilance is that the result will be a special snowflake. It is hard to step back and let a little one figure stuff out for themselves with the associated bumps/bruises (emotional or physical) (I'm not talking about abuse! -just the natural way of learning/evolving- like "growing pains".) Like a toddler learning to walk won't learn if you always prop them up. Then, if need be, you can be there for comfort and help teach them how to recover and process difficulties in a healthy and empathetic way, iyswim.
They need time to just let them be.
This might be better advice for when they are older, but if you start this way it will be easier for the practice.
When the children are very young/babies- do follow your instincts. I never let mine "cry it out". We
had still have "musical beds" as my 8yo (!) has nightmares. It will pass at some point (we keep telling ourselves) but the important thing is to respect and believe the child. There is a boundary with the using it against you though. If they are old enough, and 3 is old enough- to understand what is fair: you deserve to be treated fairly too because you are a part of your family as well. Everyone on the same team- but you /maybe dh too ;) / are the captain.
Forgive yourself or being you and you are what you have to work with-do your best with what you've got. You are light years ahead of the game simply by the fact of your self-awareness. Well done for facing up to the truth of your your circumstances. Good luck.
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